Five tips for talking to aging parents about money

Hi sister,

Today's topic can be an emotional one. It's hard to think that one day the tables may turn, and we may be taking care of the parents who lovingly raised us. You may want to avoid talking about money with your aging parents because you don't want to face this harsh reality or you may be concerned with overstepping your bounds within the family.

However, it will be a lot easier to have this conversation now, when everyone is mentally present and capable of making mindful decisions about their finances. Rather than waiting until a medical or other crisis happens, and stress overshadows everyone's ability to make rational choices.

According to eldercare expert, Barbara McVicker, fifty percent of nursing home expenses are being paid-out-of-pocket by families, with adult children contributing on average $10,000 a year to their parent’s care. The average lifetime cost of care for an Alzheimer’s patient is $174,000, and is estimated to grow by more than 400 percent by 2050. 

Wealth Wednesday on Money & Mimosas

I don’t like to be a debbie downer on Money & Mimosas, and I hope that you never have to face this difficult situation. But it’s important to prepare for the worst, and hope for the best. 

Here are five tips for talking to aging parents about money:

  1. Make it a date! You know I'm all about making money talks fun, so schedule a date  with your parents where you will all have thirty minutes to chat. If this is your first time talking about money with your aging parents, keep the conversation short. Many parents are concerned about being a burden on their children, and may be reluctant to discuss their finances with their children. Therefore, it’s important to give them a heads up about the conversation (no one likes to be blindsided!) and let them know that you are only asking to make sure you are financially prepared. Otherwise, they may feel that their financial decisions are being judged, which will cause them to become defensive. 
  2. Find a fun location. Maybe it's a park where you all have nostalgic memories or at the family's cabin. Keep it in a neutral location, and not at either of your homes, so everyone feels comfortable and relaxed.
  3. Ask them to bring the contact information of their financial team. For this first chat, the goal is to get their main information in one place. Ask for their financial advisor contact information, the location of their will/trust, and who they have decided will be their power of attorney (which may be you or one of your siblings). Save this information in an email to yourself, Dropbox or Google Drive so you can easily access it later.
  4. During the meeting, ask for a general sense of their monthly expenses so you have an idea of the costs that need to be covered. If the conversation is going smoothly, you may want to also go over their living preferences in case of of a medical situation. Would they like to have an in-home nurse or move to an assisted living community? Would you be willing to let them live in your home? Later, you'll want to go through the costs of their preference so you can be prepared. 
  5. Have a mimosa! Wrap up the meeting by letting them know you are  grateful for their presence in your life, everything they've done for you, and look forward to many more years together. Then, pour a mimosa and cheers to the good life.

Now, I'd love to hear from you! What are other financial topics you've covered with your parents?

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